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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Taste the Grit
For a book written in the late sixties, Nova is surprisingly fresh. It hasn't got the tin foil suits and atomic cars feel of much early SF. Perhaps it is Delany's sense of style and outlandish imagination that give it such a modern feel.
In an age of blockbusters and trilogies I was also surprised by how much it packed into such a tight space. There is nothing wasted...
Published on 12 Oct. 2004 by Russell

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Operatic.
This is a space opera, and a very accomplished one, full of invention and mystique, and one which very much lives up to the term "opera": the characters are grandiose; the politics of the universe is one of princes and lords; the quest is for revenge and power; those that play and lose will be blinded, broken, maddened.

As enjoyable as all this is, it's not...
Published on 6 Sept. 2010 by Behan


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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Taste the Grit, 12 Oct. 2004
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This review is from: Nova (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
For a book written in the late sixties, Nova is surprisingly fresh. It hasn't got the tin foil suits and atomic cars feel of much early SF. Perhaps it is Delany's sense of style and outlandish imagination that give it such a modern feel.
In an age of blockbusters and trilogies I was also surprised by how much it packed into such a tight space. There is nothing wasted and yet we are left feeling a 'depth' of world - Nova is vibrant, textured and multi-levelled.
It is slow to get started, with several changes of perspective and a couple of extended flash backs, but as the 'team' begins to explore various worlds in fairly typical quest style, the pace hots up. Delany reminded my of a sort of hip Jack Vance at this point.
Delany has an eye for detail that can be both engaging and frustrating. There is a great deal of focus on small body movements - he cupped his hands in this way, held is belt in that way, swept his hair back, sat like this. Sometimes it anchors the scene, sometimes it interferes. At one point, Delany almost explains himself through the words of one of the characters (a budding author himself) - character is expressed through action - the purposeful, the habitual and the gratuitous.
Nova is scruffy - not the cover (although sitting on it didn't help) but the characters and the world. There is a sense of dust, frayed ends, bare flesh, bad table manners, which gives much of Delany's work a bohemian, almost barbarian, feel.
Nova is grand world building without the grandiosity that frequently accompanies modern attempts. It is stylish, exuburent, arrogant, witty, learned, colourful and crude. It is essential reading.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Much more than space pirates., 23 Feb. 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Nova (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
This is a meticulously crafted book with the most satisfying conclusion I've ever read. The plot is a simple one: good guys and bad guys racing for the goodies - but the plot is just the stuff that happens while the author explores his characters and themes. The story is pretty good, but this is a clever piece of writing which should be read for the subtexts. Eg: one of the characters, Katin, is obviously someone with whom the author identifies, much like Rydra Wong in Babel-17 but not nearly as likeable; at times Delany's prose style is wearying, but just as I start finding it too pretentious, someone tells the pretentious Katin to shut up! The book is short enough to read in a day, but I suggest taking time with it, allowing the subtexts to absorb, to fully appreciate the last sentence.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delany's most accessible novel, 12 Feb. 2003
This review is from: Nova (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
It's hard to add to what previous reviewers have said. This is a superb book, characteristically Delany in style, motifs, and richness of vision, yet vastly more accessible in plot. Much of the delight is in the understated strangeness of this future culture: cyborging is universal and all work has reverted to literally hands-on form; only the very rich and very poor take their nourishment by eating food; the impossibility of disease makes it no longer necessary to be clean or hygienic; and Tarot divination guides decision-making at the highest level. While a very literary novel, it's held together by likeable lead characters, a hissable villain, and a gripping storyline. Please, won't someone like Luc Besson make it into a movie?
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Short, Subtle and thought-provoking, 28 July 2004
By 
Mr. A. J. Whiteway "andy-ru" (Londinium, uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Nova (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
This book reminded me a lot of 'Heart of Darkness' by Joseph Conrad. Both novels are short ('Nova' is barely over 200 pages), but both are expertly constructed down to the word level, leaving all kind of resonance in the reader's mind. Both also contain double layers of narrative that reward repeated readings.
The plot is fairly simple; an experienced captain hires a crew to go after the most profitable fuel source in the galaxy and this quickly becomes a race as we learn that the Captain's enemies are not far behind.
However the main thrust of the book is the interplay between the two of the crew, Mouse and Katin. They're two people who come from very different places and have contrasting views on what their lives mean and where the galaxy is heading and it is through their actions and discussions combined with the quest that brings this book to a very satisfying conclusion. Definitely the kind of book that you have to read twice to really appreciate, 'Nova' is the first Delany book I've read, but I now definitely intend to read a lot more.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Operatic., 6 Sept. 2010
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This review is from: Nova (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
This is a space opera, and a very accomplished one, full of invention and mystique, and one which very much lives up to the term "opera": the characters are grandiose; the politics of the universe is one of princes and lords; the quest is for revenge and power; those that play and lose will be blinded, broken, maddened.

As enjoyable as all this is, it's not really a story about much, just a big fantasy quest, a big space-romp and a somewhat camp affair at that. It might remind some of the more recent work of Iain M. Banks. It's full of rich, vibrant storytelling and in many ways it's as good as space-opera gets... But it's still just a fairytale in the end. The reader might also find much of the nautical theme implausible, the tone histrionic, the descriptions of the "sensory syrinx" increasingly tedious and the whole archetypal fellowship-quest thing a little tired. Or you might find it all very charming - I fell somewhere between the two stalls.

Worth the read, for style more than substance.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stellar (Dis)-Integration, 27 Oct. 2002
By 
Patrick Shepherd "hyperpat" (San Jose, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Nova (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
I consider Nova to be one of Delany's best works. While written comparatively early in his career (1968), it shows maturity in handling of both language and character. The narrator, the Mouse, is Delany's typical nail biting, one shoed foot outsider from civilization (gypsy like, in this case), who, while intriguing in his own right, makes an excellent contrast to Prince Lorq von Ray, spoiled, rich, and equipped with an artificial hand that he is extremely sensitive about. The plot is near space opera, with a race to visit a star in the first stages of nova to collect transuranic elements, commonly referred to as Illyrion, that are the power basis of the stellar economy, and also the basis for the high level political/corporate battle. Illyrion is also used to power one of the most unique gadgets I have come across in SF, the sensory- syrynx, which can produce music (or any type of sound), moving holographic images, and scents, all under the control of a single player. This instrument figures prominently in the final climatic scene where Lorq gets his just dues. The book also introduces the idea of socket inserts in humans, allowing anyone to plug into any machine and control the machine as an extension of his body.
But beyond the simple, near-cliched plot line lies a deeper level of meaning, when each of the characters, gadgets, and indeed even the portrayed socioeconomic structure is viewed as a symbol or metaphor for larger items. Careful reading and thinking about this book will reward the reader with some unexpected insights into courage, environment versus heredity, the use and abuse of power, the influence of 'little people' on the course of history, and many other items..A finely crafted book rich in ideas and well drawn, idiosyncratic characters.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nova, 2 Jun. 2013
By 
TomCat (Cardiff, Wales.) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Nova (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
Samuel R. Delaney's Nova (1968) is an early example of Science Fiction wilfully deconstructing its own tropes and stylistic proclivities, a wry rebuttal to the hero-centric adolescent nonsense of SF pulp. Delaney has since become a giant of both Science Fiction and the academic study of the same; and this early novel (he wrote it when he was 25!) serves as a good way-in to both his narrative style and his dry wit, without posing the insane post-structuralist difficulties of his later works like Dhalgren.

The premise is classic space opera: Captain Lorq van Ray assembles a rag-tag crew of drifters and aspirants to gather `Illyrion', a game-changing energy source that can only be harvested by flying a ship through the heart of an imploding star. The story is relayed from the perspective of The Mouse, a gypsy from Earth, gifted musician, and one of Lorq's recruits. This seemingly run-of-the-mill premise is soon complicated by the character of Captain Lorq himself; a narrative red herring who initially fits the archetype of noble space captain, but is gradually revealed to be a violent, deformed, ignoble, impatient and dangerous obsessive: the book's shocking, brutal and brilliant ending forcing the reader to completely re-adjust her opinions of this central but ultimately intangible figure.

The `love interest' trope, meanwhile, is a cartoonishly sexualised femme fatale engaged in an are-they-aren't-they incestuous relationship with her brother (Lorq's rival); the jealous, insecure but ambitious Prince Red. The mythopoeia of the setting similarly upsets space opera conventions by being grounded on Tarot law and strange references to the Grail Quest; and it's this, combined with one character's constant musings on the nature of the novel, that gives Nova it's strange bipartite identity, half manic space-race to an elusive fuel source, half thoughtful rumination of the nature of spirituality and art.

It's a relatively short novel (my copy: 224 pp), but one that strikes out in so many different directions (race, sexuality, philosophy of science, revolutionary politics, war, revenge tragedy etc.) as to feel, T.A.R.D.I.S.-like, vastly bigger than it's meagre page count would suggest. Nova is incredible: completely exhilarating, decades ahead of its time, and brimming with challenges to the reader's pre-conceived notions of what SF is, or how it should behave; and it achieves all of this without ever feeling saturated or confusing or in the least bit pretentious.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delany's best novel, 24 July 2007
By 
M. J. Barber "matt_b2" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Nova (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
This is Delany at his absolute best. The backdrop is pure space opera, but the human drama in the foreground is what engages most. The characters are vivid and driven, and their passion drives the plot along at a breakneck pace. This is a book that can, and arguably should, be finished in a single sitting. Close out the rest of the world, keep your head down, keep reading, and be prepared to be swept away. Then re-read it and see what subtleties you missed the first time around.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Space Opera Ever Written!, 7 Sept. 2006
This review is from: Nova (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
I completely agree with the prevoius reviewers. "Nova" is one of best SF novels ever written. No wonder it is one of my favourite books.

In this interesting, beautifully written novel Delany creates 3D world in which incorporated not only his visially stunning pictures of the future but high-class realistic prose by Delany about his own life in... Greece and Athens and so in "Nova" he united the world of Antiquty, quest for Holy Grail and our modern world. If you a SF lover and didn`t read "Nova" - it`s a must!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Classic Delany, 26 May 2009
By 
Patrick Cann (Kenilworth, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Nova (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
Like Alfred Bester Delany's influence can be seen in the cyberpunk genre, this tale is no different. Characters who have sockets in their limbs and spine in order to control space ships and other machinery (The Matrix anyone?). The story itself is simple but told with such style it is elevated from simple space opera to something more. You will have to decide for yourself what this is. I recommend this to anyone with an interest in science fiction, you will not be disappointed.
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Nova (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
Nova (S.F. MASTERWORKS) by Samuel R. Delany (Paperback - 11 Jan. 2001)
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